Kevin “Oldboy” Chung (5-0) is taking the greatest risk of his budding young career. But with great risks comes great rewards, and he has an opportunity to establish himself as one of the premier bantamweights in ONE Championship.
On Friday, 10 November, the 24-year-old Korean-American will clash with top divisional contender Kevin “The Silencer” Belingon (16-5) at ONE: LEGENDS OF THE WORLD, which airs live from the Mall Of Asia Arena on his opponent’s home turf of Manila, Philippines.
“I am super excited to visit the Philippines and put on a show,” Chung declares. “I know I am in his backyard, but I have no pressure on me like I did when I competed locally. It is going to be a wild night.”
A mere glance at their records shows a sizeable gap in experience between the pair, and Belingon, a Filipino Wushu Champion, is a former world title challenger who has separated himself from the rest of the bantamweight pack.
What’s more, Belingon is driven to get a second crack at the ONE Bantamweight World Championship, and that has shown in his performances as of late.
The 29-year-old Team Lakay standout has emerged with his hand raised in his last three outings, as he dominated Tajikistan’s Muin Gafurov via unanimous decision, and then knocked out both former world title challengers Toni “Dynamite” Tauru and Reece “Lightning” McLaren in the first round.
Although Chung acknowledges Belingon’s world-class skills and impressive background, he is confident in his own talent.
“To the common eye, it may be a mismatch on paper due to records and experience,” Chung begins. “But I am confident in my skills and feel like this is my time. Anything can happen, and I have the skills to finish him.”
Chung made his promotional debut at ONE: LIGHT OF A NATION this past June. It was impressive, as he scored a second-round TKO over Zhong Qing Ya. If Belingon is studying those two rounds worth of footage, Chung considers that an advantage.
“I am pretty sure he will be able to find my last bout,” the Korean-American says. “I hope he looks at that and studies it. I am not the same athlete that I was in June. I have had a full camp and I am better prepared.”
Chung will walk into the ONE cage with an uncompromising faith in his abilities. Originally a Brazilian jiu-jitsu specialist, it would only be logical for “Oldboy” to pounce early and try to drag Belingon to the mat, where the Crazy 88 talent would have an advantage. But that is not his plan, despite three of Belingon’s five losses coming by way of submission.
“A lot of people will look at us and say he has the striking advantage. But I have a slight height and reach advantage,” he mentions.
“I feel like I can stand with him. A lot of guys do not believe they can and look to wrestle, but I think I can hurt him on the feet. It is a great feeling knowing that. If there is any point in the bout when I am in trouble, I know that I have other weapons to go to.”
However, if the bout hits the canvas, Chung is prepared to exploit the Filipino’s perceived vulnerability.
“I know what his weaknesses are,” the Korean-American continues. “I am sure he is working hard to correct that. Learning the proper mechanics of BJJ takes longer than a few months. Once we get in there and start throwing hands and it hits the ground, he is going to see that.”
Although Chung may be taking a great risk in this bout against Belingon, he is confident in his ability to win, and preparing for an even greater reward.
“It will be a barnburner, and I promise it will be] the bout of the night. I will knock Belingon out within the time allowed,” he states. “I am not looking past Belingon, and am just focused on the task at hand. However, when my hand is raised, I would like [to challenge] Bibiano Fernandes in Korea.”